How Your Body Uses Energy As You Continue to Train

How Your Body Uses Energy As You Continue to Train

How Your Body Uses Energy
How Your Body Uses Energy

How Your Body Uses Energy As You Continue to Train

When you first start working out, your body will go through a number of changes. These changes are designed to provide you with more energy and your ability to recruit that energy as and when you need it, is one of the biggest factors in determining how fit you are and how well you’re able to train. It’s also what controls the amount of fat you’re able to lose in any given amount of time!

Let’s see how this works and what you can do to improve it…

The ATP-CP System

Essentially, the body finds its energy using three separate systems and it goes through these three systems in order.

When you first start exercising, you will begin using what is known as the ‘ATP-CP’ system. This stands for adenosine triphosphate creatine phosphate system. Catchy!

Adenosine triphosphate is the most fundamental form of energy known to biology. This is what glucose must be broken down into in order to be used by the body and a fair amount of it exists inside your muscles at all times. As soon as you start exercising, you utilize that ATP and this provides up to a couple of seconds of power. CP – creatine phosphate – allows us to recycle ATP and is also stored in the muscles ready to use.

The ATP-CP system is the most energy efficient and provides us with energy without making us gasp or feel unwell.

The Glycogen Lactic Acid System

The glycogen lactic acid system works by using glycogen stored in the muscles. This is the second most energy efficient source but has the unwanted side effect of producing lactate and other metabolites as a by-product. Lactate makes us feel unwell if we keep pushing ourselves and correlates with other metabolites that can make the muscle feel like it’s burning.

We can usually use this system of energy for a couple of minutes before the lactate becomes too much or the burn becomes too much. It is possible to improve your tolerance to this however, with training.

The Aerobic System

Finally, we switch to the aerobic system. This is the energy system most of us are most familiar with and it works by utilizing oxygen in the blood in order to burn fat stores for energy. This is why it makes us start breathing more heavily and increases our heart rate.

The aerobic system is the least energy efficient and it takes time for the energy to be delivered. Thus we are forced to slow down once we reach this state. However, it is also the type of energy system that we are able to sustain the longest. In fact, we can continue with this kind of exercise indefinitely or until we collapse from a complete lack of body fat!

HIIT

HIIT (high intensity interval training) is so effective because it involves switching from the first two types of energy (anaerobic energy) to the last kind. This enables you to deplete both your glycogen and your fat stores and thus does both more effectively.

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How to Design a MetCon Circuit for Maximum Weight Loss and Muscle Building

How to Design a MetCon Circuit for Maximum Weight Loss and Muscle Building

Maximum Weight Loss
Maximum Weight Loss

How to Design a MetCon Circuit for Maximum Weight Loss and Muscle Building

If you take a look on YouTube for a workout, you’ll find that they often come in the form of ‘ten-minute whole body routines’ and the like. These are designed as circuits and they usually incorporate a range of exercises such as squats, clapping press ups, bicep curls and tuck jumps.

In theory, this type of workout can be highly beneficial for both building muscle and burning fat. That’s because it comes very close to mimicking a HIIT workout – encouraging short bursts of high intensity, followed by short resting periods. At the same time, the lack of rest increases the intensity and potentially allows for some real muscle damage and metabolic stress in a short amount of time.

But not all of these workouts are made equal and some of them simply don’t work all that well. Be careful when finding workouts online!

Read on and we’ll see how to design a workout that does work, that uses these principles.

How to Burn Fat With a Circuit

Workouts that are designed to use high intensity intervals combined with resistance training and calisthenics are called ‘metcon’. This stands for ‘metabolic conditioning’ and should in theory improve your metabolism.

If you want to create a workout that falls into this category though, then you need to make sure that you are actually fulfilling the criteria of ‘metabolic conditioning’. This means that you need to be reaching 90-100% of your maximum heart rate during your exercise. You’re not going to do that with lunges and sit-ups, so make sure you include something like tuck jumps, like clapping press ups or like high knees.

The other thing to keep in mind though, is that you can’t maintain 90-100% MHR for more than a minute in most cases. Thus it’s important to provide breaks in your workout routine, so that some stations can be considered ‘active recovery’. An example might be to follow something like clapping press ups with something like plank.

More Tips

Another tip is to make sure that your circuit targets as many muscle groups as possible. The more different muscle you involve in your routines, the more you will stimulate the body to produce growth hormone and testosterone, which will lead to more muscle growth, even while you’re sleeping.

Another thing to do is to try and alternate the order that you hit each muscle group in so that you are switching from upper body to legs. This means that the body will have to direct blood from your arms down to your legs and back again – getting your heart to work harder and ultimately burning more calories as a result.

Finally, try to avoid adding any complex multi-joint exercises that are prone to injury at a point in the routine where you’re likely to be tired. If you’re going to perform deadlifts, then make sure that you do so at the start of the workout before you are exhausted. Doing deadlifts tired is a quick way to snap your back!

Read more about it here: HIIT it Hard – high intensity interval training

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How to Burn Fat without Losing Muscle

How to Burn Fat without Losing Muscle

How to Burn Fat
How to Burn Fat

How to Burn Fat without Losing Muscle

A lot of bodybuilders still rely on going through bulking and cutting cycles in order to get the incredible physiques that they display on stage.

This makes sense because it is the quickest and most efficient way to add muscle. Adding muscle means being in a calorie surplus. The more calories you consume, the more anabolic your body will be – the more testosterone will be washing around your body and the less likely you will be to burn muscle for fuel. But of course, eating extra calories makes it even harder not to gain any fat – and especially when you’re getting them from sugar ‘weight gainer’ products and the like.

Fortunately, this isn’t a problem for bodybuilders. They simply follow this period up with a period of dieting hard, which causes their body to burn the fat away from the muscle. A tiny bit of muscle is lost but mainly, it’s fat that will disappear. Hence the ‘bulk and cut’.

But you’re not a bodybuilder (probably). You probably don’t want to spend half the year looking overweight. So how can you use cardio to stay lean and add muscle at the same time?

The Problem With Cardio

The reason that most bodybuilders will stay away from intensive cardio when they’re bulking is that it puts the body once again in a catabolic state. When you run using steady state cardio, your body will supply energy by turning to your blood sugar and your fat stores.

Unfortunately, this means your blood sugar drops. And when your blood sugar drops, your body responds by releasing ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Ghrelin release is always followed by cortisol (the stress hormone) and cortisol is followed by myostatin – a molecule that signals the breakdown of muscle. The more myostatin, the more muscle you lose.

Add to the fact that your body will get 15% of its energy from protein and you have a scenario that is not good for building muscle.

The Answer

There are a few solutions.

One such option is to walk. Walking will allow you to burn energy at a much slower rate and avoid completely depleting your energy stores. This means you never get to the point where you have very low blood sugar and you never start cannibalizing that hard-won muscle.

Another option is to use HIIT. This is High Intensity Interval Training, which means alternating between spurts of sprinting and periods of jogging. The good thing about this is that the sprinting portion doesn’t burn blood sugar or muscle and instead relies on energy stored as glycogen. You’ll spend less time in a catabolic state and lose less muscle as a result – and so many bodybuilders will use HIIT ‘finishers’ following a workout.

Finally, you can also use nutrition to protect yourself and reduce your chances of losing muscle. The best way to do this is by consuming BCAAs – branch chained amino acids. These have been shown to have a very positive effect in reducing muscle breakdown during exercise.

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How High Intensity Interval Training challenges the Body and Improves Fat Loss

How High Intensity Interval Training challenges the Body and Improves Fat Loss

High intensity interval training
High intensity interval training

How HIIT Challenges the Body and Improves Fat Loss

If you’ve read just about any fitness blog, magazine or website in recent years, then you’ll likely have come across HIIT.

HIIT: high intensity interval training. Sprinting at maximum heartrate for a short period of time and then switching to a slower form of exercise for a couple of minutes to recover before starting the whole cycle again.

This type of training is all the rage because it is known to burn more calories in less time when compared with steady state cardio. And it’s great for our VO2 max, mitochondrial function and more.

But why? How does it work? What makes it so special?

What Happens When You Push it Hard

When you engage in HIIT, you start out by pushing hard and going at or near to your maximum heart rate. This is what makes all the difference, as now you are depleting your body of all of its readily available energy in order to drive those fast twitch muscle fibers. This is anaerobic training and it relies on ATP stored in the muscles, as well as glycogen.

After this, you then switch to your regular exercise at around 70% of your maximum heart rate. This is a steady pace that you can maintain, that burns fat using the aerobic system and that allows you to recover and reduce the lactate and other metabolites that build up in your blood during intensive exercise.

Welcome to After Burn

Steady state cardio is normally something you can maintain for a long time before you start to tire out and this is why a lot of people will exercise by running at a steady pace for 40-60 minutes.

If you do this after having done high intensity training however, you will be running at a point when you have very little available energy in your muscles and in your blood. All the glycogen has been used up and thus you have to rely even more on fat in order to keep going. Your body becomes more efficient at burning fat and you see greater benefits from the short amount of training that comes after.

But this isn’t even the best bit. What’s so good about HIIT is that this after burn effect continues for hours after you finish training. You’re now going about your usual activities with less glycogen, which means you’ll burn more fat even to do regular things like picking up a fork, or walking across the room!

Athletic Benefits

HIIT is also great for numerous other reasons. For starters, the explosive nature of the training means that you’re involving your fast twitch muscle fibers. This means that you’ll release more anabolic hormones like growth hormone and like testosterone, leading to more growth. And because you’re not completely relying on your blood sugar, you’re not going to go into as catabolic a state and risk burning fat.

Another benefit of HIIT is that it improves your energy efficiency. Because you’re pushing your cells to make energy more quickly, they become better at doing just that – improving your health, fitness and athletic performance across the board!

High intensity interval training
High intensity interval training

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How to Learn to Love Running

How to Learn to Love Running

How to Learn to Love Running
How to Learn to Love Running

Hate Cardio? Here’s How to Make it a Part of Your Routine

Some people love running and are absolutely addicted to it.

Everyone else struggles to understand how they possibly got to this point. After all, running is slow, painful, boring and makes you feel sick. What’s to like?

A lot of us want to love running because we know it’s good for us. We want to be fitter, we want to lose weight and we want to spend more time outside. But when we try it, it’s just too unbearable to stick with.

So what can you do to solve the problem and actually get into running properly?

How to Learn to Love Running

The first thing to do, is assess what you’re doing wrong.

In many cases, the problem is that we try too hard to start losing lots of weight right away and to get into shape. We are under the illusion that in order to ‘burn fat’ or improve our fitness, we need to be training at a level that is very uncomfortable.

However, this is very much the wrong way to look at it. After all, when you start running, if it is something you’ve not done regularly before, then you’re immediately adding to your routine and doing more than you did before. You are immediately improving your health and burning more calories than you would otherwise. That alone is enough!

What’s more, is that this is enough to improve your ability to run, which means you can do a little bit more more comfortably in future.

If you head out right now to go for a run and you try to run as fast and as far as you can, then you’ll come back feeling like you achieved something but also feeling completely beaten up by your training and completely in pain.

Instead then, try to go for a run just to enjoy the run. Jog at a pace that feels comfortable and set out to explore the area. Wear comfortable shoes and when you’re ready to come home, turn around and come back.

This is something you’ll now actually want to do again.

Make it Simple

The other thing to do, is to make sure that the type of workouts you’re using are ones that you can easily fit into your routine.

This is the other problem with going for a 40 minute run: 40 minutes is a long time. And it’s especially a long time when you add the extra washing you have to do, the fact you might get lost and the fact that you need to shower and get changed.

Instead, how about looking into a relatively beginner-friendly form of HIIT? HIIT has the advantage of being something you can use anywhere and of being something that lets you burn a lot more calories and improve your health much more in a shorter space of time. This is something you can now conveniently fit into your routine and thus actually stick with.

Love Running
Love Running

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